The Chamber of Commerce has just released its preliminary list of “job killer” bills that have been proposed in the California Legislature. Don’t forget that California remains tied with Louisiana for the fourth highest rate of unemployment in the country at 6.7%.

This year’s list identifies 16 proposed laws, including four new “Increased Labor Costs” mandates and one “Increased Unnecessary Litigation Costs” mandate, which will directly impact California employers should the bills become law.

Chamber President and CEO Allan Zaremberg said that the 2015 preliminary list “represents the worst of the worst” in proposed legislation. “These proposals will unnecessarily increase costs on California employers that will likely lead to a loss of jobs.”

The “Increased Labor Costs” bills, which will directly affect California employers, are as follows:

  • AB 357 (Chiu, D-San Francisco) – Predictable Scheduling Mandate and Predictability Pay For Food and Retail Establishments: The “Fair Scheduling Act of 2015” would require food and retail establishments to provide employees with two weeks’ advance notice of their schedules and additional “predictability pay” when the retail establishment cancels or reschedules its employees’ shifts. The bill would further require food and retail establishments to allow employees to take unpaid absences for up to eight hours twice per year to attend required appointments at county human services agencies. This bill is modeled after the San Francisco Retail Workers Bill of Rights, which we recently blogged about here.
  • SB 3 (Leno, D-San Francisco / Leyva, D-Chino) – Automatic Minimum Wage Increase: Raises the minimum wage to $11 per hour by January 1, 2016 and $13 per hour by July 1, 2017. This law would increase California’s minimum wage by more than 40% over the next two years. After 2017, the bill mandates additional automatic minimum wage increases based on future increases in inflation.
  • SB 406 (Jackson, D-Santa Barbara) – Expansion of California Family Rights Act: The proposed legislation would redefine “employer” under the California Family Rights Act to include all employers with at least 5 employees within 75 miles of the employee’s worksite. Currently, the Act excludes employers with fewer than 50 employees within a 75-mile radius. The proposal would also further expand the categories of employees who are entitled to take leave under the Act and the covered reasons for which employees may take protected leave.
  • SB 563 (Pan, D-Sacramento) – Increase in Workers’ Compensation Costs: Existing law requires employers to establish a utilization review process to review physician requests for medical treatment for injured employees. This bill would prohibit the utilization review process for certain treatment recommendations, thereby increasing the cost of workers’ compensation for employers. The bill would further require employers to file with the administrative director methods of compensation and any incentive payments contingent upon the approval, modification, or denial of a claim for an individual or entity providing services pursuant to the utilization review process.

The “Increased Unnecessary Litigation Costs” bills include:

  • AB 465 (Hernández, D-West Covina) – Bars Mandatory Arbitration Agreements: The proposed legislation provides that employers cannot mandate as a condition of employment any waiver of a legal right, forum or procedure. This would result in precluding mandatory pre-dispute employment arbitration agreements, which many California employers currently use.

For more information on how these proposed bills may impact you, contact your Proskauer relationship attorney.